Chico’s FAS is beginning to present indicators of a comeback — however activist traders don’t suppose it’s quick sufficient.
The Fort Myers, Fla.-based retailer — mum or dad firm to the Chico’s, White House Black Market, Soma and TellTale manufacturers — revealed quarterly earnings Tuesday morning earlier than the market opened, enhancing on top-line revenues throughout your entire portfolio and narrowing its losses. Shares of Chico’s FAS shot up greater than 6 p.c throughout Tuesday’s session in consequence.
“Our first-quarter results underscore the tremendous progress we are making in our turnaround strategy and the power of our three unique brands and being a digital-first, customer-led company,” Molly Langenstein, Chico’s FAS chief government officer and president, mentioned in a press release. “Operating discipline, strategically planned inventories and the ongoing benefit of cost actions, are further expanding margins and contributing to our return to profitable growth.”
Total firm revenues for the three-month interval ending May 1, have been roughly $388 million, in contrast with $280 million the identical time final 12 months. Soma was the clear standout, with gross sales surging 65 p.c throughout the quarter to roughly $107 million, up from practically $65 million the identical time final 12 months. But the innerwear and sleepwear model’s efficiency improved even when in comparison with pre-pandemic ranges. Comparable gross sales grew 39 p.c, in contrast with 2019’s first quarter.
Chico’s and White House Black Market additionally made noticeable progress. Total revenues at Chico’s have been $177 million, up from $131 million a 12 months in the past, whereas White House Black Market had $104 million in whole gross sales, up from practically $84 million final 12 months.
“At Chico’s and White House Black Market, elevated styling and quality are leading to faster sell-through rates and customer enthusiasm,” the CEO added in her ready remarks.
“The business strategies put in place in Soma around inventory, product marketing and digital are working,” Langenstein added on Tuesday morning’s convention name with analysts. “And we have every confidence [that] applying the same strategies at Chico’s and White House Black Market will continue the apparel sales momentum.”
In addition, the corporate mentioned the common age of recent clients continues to drop, “reinforcing the runway for all three brands.”
Chico’s FAS narrowed its losses in consequence, with $8.9 million in losses, in contrast with greater than $178 million in losses final 12 months.
“Our momentum started in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2019, stalled by the pandemic, [and] is now back on track to deliver meaningful growth in the years to come,” Langenstein mentioned. “Our progress is measurable and the opportunities planned throughout the coming year will continue driving sales growth, even deeper customer loyalty and market share gains.”
But solely a day earlier, activist traders Barington Capital Group, whose shareholders personal about 2 p.c of Chico’s FAS, despatched a letter to Chico’s government chair of the board, urging the retailer to discover strategic options in its turnaround efforts. Barington’s checklist of solutions embrace including board members who’ve expertise in e-commerce and ladies’s specialty retailing to additional improve the corporate’s digital efforts — and promoting off unprofitable manufacturers.
“Barington believes the operating struggles at the company’s fashion clothing brands, Chico’s and White House Black Market, have long overshadowed the positive contributions from Soma, the company’s intimate apparel and loungewear brand,” the letter acknowledged. “[Barington] believes Soma, the corporate’s intimate attire model, is probably going definitely worth the firm’s complete enterprise worth, however is being overshadowed by poor working efficiency of different manufacturers. Based on current peer valuations, Barington believes Soma’s worth might exceed the corporate’s enterprise worth of roughly $640 million.
“In Barington’s opinion, the company’s board is largely responsible for this underperformance, as it has failed to adequately refresh the board,” the letter continued. “Barington sees promise in the new CEO’s operating plan, which is driven by digital-led retailing and improvements to merchandise quality. Given the sizable cost reductions enacted by management last year, Barington expects to see a return to profitability in [fiscal-year] 2021.”
Chico’s FAS responded to the letter the identical day with a press release, saying the agency is in ongoing conversations with all of its shareholders — together with Barington — to debate the retailer’s future prospects.
“The company is making tremendous progress in its turnaround strategy to become a digital-first, customer-led company,” Chico’s FAS mentioned. “This work, which commenced within the third quarter of 2019, was displaying vital traction previous to the pandemic. In addition, actions taken during the last 18 months to scale back prices and strengthen the corporate’s stability sheet present a robust monetary basis to speculate and develop for the foreseeable future.
“We look forward to continuing to engage with all of our shareholders, including Barington, about this work and the execution of our transformation strategy,” the assertion continued. “We are committed to taking all appropriate actions to improve performance and drive shareholder value.”
To assist curb bills, Chico’s FAS Canada, a subsidiary of Chico’s FAS, filed for chapter with the Ontario, Canada, workplace of the Superintendent in Bankruptcy, final July.
The transfer meant all 10 of its shops in Canada — 4 Chico’s and 6 White House Black Market places — would shut completely. The firm continues to function its e-commerce platforms in Canada.
Chico’s FAS has additionally beforehand mentioned it could shut between 13 and 16 p.c of its retailer fleet over the subsequent three years, beginning with 40 to 45 shops within the present fiscal 12 months. The majority of the closures can be in underperforming mall-based Chico’s and White House Black Market shops.
In addition, the retailer continues to boast about Soma’s success.
“Soma, which posted a 65 percent sales increase over last year’s first quarter, remains on track to be one of the largest intimate apparel brands in the country,” Langenstein mentioned on Tuesday. “According to market research firm [The] NPD Group, for the 12 months [ending in] April 2021, Soma’s growth exceeded that of the U.S. apparel market, was in the top 10 brands for non-sport bras and panties and was in the top five brands in the sleepwear market. We believe this is compelling evidence [that] Soma is well positioned and on track to accelerate market share gains and explode into a billion-dollar brand by 2025.”
The lingerie and innerwear model additionally started rolling out Soma shops-in-shop in Chico’s shops in the latest quarter, saying the early outcomes are “exceeding expectations.” The retailer plans to have 47 Soma shops-in-shop in Chico’s shops by mid-June.
The retailer has practically 1,300 shops within the U.S. Chico’s FAS additionally sells merchandise by way of 66 franchise places in Mexico, together with two home airport franchise places.
The firm ended the quarter with $83.8 million in money and money equivalents and $149 million in long-term debt.
Chico’s isn’t offering full-year fiscal 2021 steering, however did say it now expects consolidated year-over-year internet gross sales enhancements of between 28 and 34 p.c. Shares of Chico’s FAS are up greater than 147 p.c, year-over-year.